smooth and cool

Hey friends from The Red Dress Club.  It’s me, Katie Sluiter of Sluiter Nation.  I’m over here today with my post because I just felt it fit here since it’s about my past before becoming a Sluiter.  I will probably post more remembeRED posts here if they take place pre-Sluiter.


I am not rebellious.

I think I covered that fairly well in yesterday’s post on Sluiter Nation.

I know this now, but I was unaware of my goody-goody lot in life as a teenager.

I so badly wanted to be a rebel.  I wanted to do something wrong and…cool…but not too wrong, but way cool.


The evening was warm and clear, but we were all piled on the sectional in the basement watching Pulp Fiction for the billionth time.

When the movie ended, Ken headed to the back deck for a smoke break before we started the next movie.

I had known Ken was a smoker for a long time, but had recently found out that more than half of the people in that basement had become butt-suckers.

I was startled at first…then bummed.

Why had no one included me on this newly found rebellious act of being an angsty teen?

Even my best friend who, up through middle school, was the most painfully shy two-shoes you had ever met, was all about burning a dog every now and then in social situations.

In fact, she was bumming a stick off Ken on the deck.

Well screw this noise, I wanted in.

“Teach me to smoke,” I announced to the two of them as I silently close the heavy glass sliding door.

They just stared at me.  There was laughter in their eyes, I could see it.

I glanced behind me through the door.  Cort and Mat are picking up the ping pong paddles.  Erin is cuddled with her dog on her end of the couch.  Phil and Robb are laughing about something said to the ping pong players, and Lance is reclining with his hat over his face probably wishing we would just start Reservoir Dogs.

Two-thirds of the people inside are smokers.

I turn back to Ken and Tonya.  They are both sitting there with their smokes…so cool and calm.

Two-thirds of the people on the deck are smokers.

“Come on, guys,” I said with a bit too much whine.

“Ok, but all Ken has are Menthols,” Tonya told me.

“So?” I was totally acting like I knew what she was talking about.

“Well, it’s just that…they…it’s just going to burn a little.”

“Whatever, give me one.”

I snatch the cigarette out of Ken’s stained hand and smell it.  Minty.  How could this be bad?

I put it in my mouth and lean in to the flame that Tonya had lit for me with her pink lighter.

Nothing happened.

“Um, Kate?   You have to suck in while it’s in the flame.”

“I know that.”


I suck in and watch the cherry glow.

I quickly realize my mouth is full of smoke.  I let it fall out of my open mouth without even coughing. I try to act all “whatever” about it.

I am awesome.

And cool.  Don’t forget cool.

Ken is giggling.  As in wipe-the-tears-as-he-shakes kind of giggling.

I shoot him a dirty look.


“Ok, Kate?” Tonya begins, “You don’t just put smoke in your mouth, you have to actually inhale.  Otherwise you look lame. Only lame smokers don’t inhale.  In fact, they are called non-smokers.”

“Well teach me to do that.  What do I do?  Swallow?”

“OH GOD, NO!  Come on, Kate.  You were an honor student, swallowing is not the same as inhaling.  You are not EATING the smoke.”

Ken is dying.


“KEN!  Stop laughing at me.  I need help.  I want to be all slow and cool and blowing it out my nose like you do.”

And now Tonya is laughing.

These are my friends.


“Let’s just start with inhaling.  Watch what I do.  I will pull the smoke in my mouth and then breath it in.”

She takes a long drag on the stick, pauses and motions for me to watch, then she over exaggerates a breathing in of whatever air is in her mouth.

“Ok, I get it,” I say as I snatch my cigarette away from her.

I suck in a bunch of smoke.

Ken and Tonya have taken pause from their humiliating laughter to watch.

I smile with my mouth full of smoke and breath in mostly with my nose, but a little from my mouth.

I continue to smile as I breath out.

“Um, ok.  Sort of,” Tonya says.

“Look!  I am not coughing like a maniac!”

“That’s because you barely inhaled,” Ken chuckles.

“But I did it.  I am awesome.  And smooth.  And so cool.”

With that I take a longer, more confident drag.

The mint fills my lungs and burns.

I promptly cough my face off while dry-heaving.


This post was written in response to the prompt asking us to write a memory prompted by this picture:


About ksluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no, that is a Journey song. Although I do live in a small town. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. We have joys and we have struggles. Just like you.
This entry was posted in a rebel i am not, doing something new, I was an angsty teen, me, memories from being a dumb college kid, nonfiction, Red Dress Club. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to smooth and cool

  1. Pingback: Send a Kate to BlogHer: A Fundraiser…or Two | Sluiter Nation

  2. Ashley says:

    Am I allowed to say this is funny? I really like the way you told this. It was pretty funny. I could picture the whole conversation.

    • Katie says:

      yes, it is totally Ok to laugh at me.

      And I never really learned to inhale without it burning. And so…never a ‘real’ smoker. I guess that is a good thing!

  3. Nancy C says:

    This is so natural, so funny. Love the dialogue.

    I was banned from bumming friend’s cigarettes because I didn’t do it right.

    That is, unless they were really drunk and wanted a good laugh. Then they let me “schmoke”

  4. CSluiter says:

    Oh honey… you’re always smooth and cool, especially now. 🙂

  5. Erin says:

    I think we all got laughed at by someone when we learned to inhale! This was hilarious! Now what I would like to see is it being cool to be a NON smoker among the kids!

  6. melissa says:

    i’ll never forget the first time i smoked a cigarette “properly”. i almost died. i can’t believe i continued for years. ugh.

    • Katie says:

      thankfully I only smoked for about a year and half…and not very heavily. Like one cigarette a day. And then I realized how ridiculous it all was.

  7. Roxanne says:

    I love your humor at the situation. I was totally serious the first time I tried to smoke. Nobody was paying attention, so I didn’t learn about “inhaling” until I’d been “smoking” for about a week when my boyfriend pulled me aside and told me what I was doing wrong. I felt like such a moron!

  8. Kristy says:

    I love your voice in this! Just perfect. And, what a perfect setting with the movies that you were watching and everything. Great storytelling.

  9. Mandyland says:

    SO smooth and cool. lol

    I loved your voice in this. It was fun and light and teen and seriously funny.

    I’ve always wondered how anyone gets past that first inhale to continue.

  10. I was told everyone could tell I wasn’t a smoker because I didn’t “hold it right.” Wha?

    Glad you got it out of your system, so to speak!

    • Katie says:

      HA HA! We had a friend like that. He looked so funny when he held his cigarette!

      Oh I could do all the correct holding. I practiced in the mirror.

      Wait. What? Did I just admit that???

  11. This totally reminded me of my first attempt to smoke a cigarette too. It pretty much played out the exact same way. Except they weren’t menthols.

    Unfortunately, I picked up the habit and went onto smoke off and on through college and then for two years afterward. Not too proud of that now.

  12. SoberJulie says:

    Wicked! Your dialogue brought me back to the smoking area in highschool where my friends taught me to smoke. Well written.

    • Katie says:

      awesome. that is a huge compliment! smokers in high school were so cool. now I look at my high school students who smoke and I feel sorry for them.

  13. Elaine says:

    Okay, looking back it’s totally funny, yes? 😉 And for the record the very first cigarette I ever smoked was a Clove cigarette. Woah.

    loved the “well screw this noise” line. Took me back.. .

    • Katie says:

      ME TOO! Well, the first cigarettes I sucked smoke into my mouth and PRETENDED to smoke were cloves.

      mmm…that reminds me of concerts.

  14. OMG, “you are not EATING the smoke”! Priceless!!
    Came from TRDC.

    • Katie says:

      i am a smart girl. but I am dumb in the way of the rebellious. I know what it’s SUPPOSED to look like, but I can’t imitate cool at all.

  15. Kir says:

    my friend, I am so proud of you…for TRYING.
    I never quite the hang of inhaling either and I’m glad, because it meant that I never got hooked on those ciggies.

    this was touching and funny and written so well. I feel like I know you. 🙂

    • Katie says:

      Ok Kir? Only you would be proud of me for trying to smoke. I love you and your cheerleadery ways. I so do.

      I am also glad I never got the hang of it, but I do think trying is sort of a right of passage. I hate to admit that because it means my son will try, but I think it’s just what happens to all kids.

  16. Victoria KP says:

    Oh man, this could have been me!

  17. Amy says:

    This is a pretty funny story. I was giggling through the whole thing!

  18. Andrea says:

    Love your teenage voice, Katie. And the angst, OH the angst! 😉 Too much!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks, Andrea. Sometimes I don’t think my 33 year old voice and my 18 year old voice are too different.

      i am not sure if that is good or…well…sad.

  19. Roxane says:

    You are hilarious, my dear. Seriously. Cracked me right up.

    You’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t take to it. Thank your lucky stars.

    Loved this.

    • Katie says:

      You know, Roxanne, I am not sure I ever really wanted to SMOKE so much as I wanted the look of being cool and bad ass.

      I achieved neither.

      People still giggle when I try to be bad ass.

  20. Karenof4 says:

    Hehehe! I love how you wrote this!! 🙂

  21. Natalie says:

    Love the dialogue! This was really funny and seemed so natural…like I was sitting there listening to it.

    • Katie says:

      oh good! I just sat and typed it out from memory…and what I couldn’t remember I filled in with what I THINK they would say. I think I know them well enough 🙂

  22. CDG says:

    I just had to giggle at all the cigarette lingo… it cracked me up coming from you.

    You’re so smooth. And very cool.

    • Katie says:

      the funny thing is…in real life? it’s fairly natural. Cort was a smoker for 10 years. But since my online self is so squeaky clean…it’s a big silly 🙂

  23. Judith Evans says:

    I like the way your story alternates between dialogue and your thoughts. This is a very enjoyable read. It’s amazing how we took ourselves so seriously as teens, isn’t it?

    • Katie says:

      thanks. and yes…I have to remember that when I teach. My students really feel what they feel. Even if it is all angsty teen stuff.

  24. Tiffany says:

    Aw! I am giggling! In like an “oh, sweetheart!” kinda way! I had this same experience, with the inhaling and all, but I was 27 and it wasn’t cigarettes and I was a mom of 2 at the time. Shit. Proud moments these are. 😉

  25. Geri says:

    BUTT SUCKERS – okay I just really had to say it again! I had to stop at that bit and bounce – nearly-peed-my-pants funny. I didn’t meet smokers until college, and then ALL of my friends did it but I couldn’t master the inhaling. I was like the DNS – designated non-smoker. Loved the post!

    *oh yeah, popped over from TRDC*

  26. Teehee teehee this was hilarious and made me think about my own experiences with the cigarette LOL

  27. Anastasia says:

    I have the exact same story, but my friends never explained, they just let me wander around like an idiot, not inhaling.

  28. Pingback: a little bit rock n roll | Sluiter Nation

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